Accommodating Students With Dyslexia
Teaching students with dyslexia across settings is challenging. Here are some accommodations that general education and special education teachers can use in a classroom of heterogeneous learners.
Accommodations Involving Interactive Instruction
The task of gaining students attention and engaging them for a period of time requires many teaching and managing skills. Some accommodations to enhance successful interactive instructional activities are:
- Repeat directions. Students who have difficulty following directions are often helped by asking them to repeat the directions in their own words.
- Maintain daily routines. Many students with learning problems need the structure of daily routines to know and do what is expected.
- Provide students with a graphic organizer. An outline, chart, or blank web can be given to students to fill in during presentations. This helps students listen for key information and see the relationships among concepts and related information.
- Use step-by-step instruction. New or difficult information can be presented in small sequential steps. This helps learners with limited prior knowledge who need explicit or part-to-whole instruction.
- Simultaneously combine verbal and visual information. Verbal information can be provided with visual displays (e.g., on an overhead or handout).
- Write key points or words on the chalkboard. Prior to a presentation, the teacher can write new vocabulary words and key points on the chalkboard or overhead.
- Use balanced presentations and activities. An effort should be made to balance oral presentations with visual information and participatory activities. Also, there should be a balance between large group, small group, and individual activities.
- Emphasize daily review. Daily review of previous learning or lessons can help students connect new information with prior knowledge.
Accommodations Involving Student Performance
Students vary significantly in their ability to respond in different modes. For example, students vary in their ability to give oral presentations; participate in discussions; write letters and numbers; write paragraphs; draw objects; spell; work in noisy or cluttered settings; and read, write, or speak at a fast pace. Moreover, students vary in their ability to process information presented in visual or auditory formats. The following accommodations can be used to enhance students performance:
- Change response mode. For students who have difficulty with fine motor responses (such as handwriting), the response mode can be changed to underlining, selecting from multiple choices, sorting, or marking. Students with fine motor problems can be given extra space for writing answers on worksheets or can be allowed to respond on individual chalkboards.
- Encourage use of graphic organizers. A graphic organizer involves organizing material into a visual format.
- Encourage use of assignment books or calendars. Students can use calendars to record assignment due dates, list school related activities, record test dates, and schedule timelines for schoolwork. Students should set aside a special section in an assignment book or calendar for recording homework assignments.
- Reduce copying by including information or activities on handouts or worksheets.
- Have students turn lined paper vertically for math. Lined paper can be turned vertically to help students keep numbers in appropriate columns while computing math problems.
- Use cues to denote important items. Asterisks or bullets can denote questions or activities that count heavily in evaluation. This helps students spend time appropriately during tests or assignments.
- Design hierarchical worksheets. The teacher can design worksheets with problems arranged from easiest to hardest. Early success helps students begin to work.
- Allow use of instructional aids. Students can be provided with letter and number strips to help them write correctly. Number lines, counters, and calculators help students compute once they understand the mathematical operations.
- Display work samples. Samples of completed assignments can be displayed to help students realize expectations and plan accordingly.
- Use peer-mediated learning. The teacher can pair peers of different ability levels to review their notes, study for a test, read aloud to each other, write stories, or conduct laboratory experiments. Also, a partner can read math problems for students with reading problems to solve.
- Use flexible work times. Students who work slowly can be given additional time to complete written assignments.
Adapted from the International Dyslexia Association fact sheet "Accommodating Students with Dyslexia In All Classroom Settings," which was prepared by Cecil Mercer, Ed.D., a distinguished professor at the University of Florida.